(Sanskrit = knowledge)
A large body of Indo-Aryan writings that are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.
The texts are organized into four collections (called Samhitas). The four are:
(1) Rig Veda: Hymns to be recited by the presiding priest.
(2) Yajur Veda: Formulas to be recited by the officiating priest.
(3) Sama Veda: Formulas to be sung by the priest that chants.
(4) Atharva Veda: A collection of spells and incantations.
1. The Vedas indicate that initially Indo-Aryan religion principally involved ritual and sacrifice. The Upanishads, which were written and added later, focus more on philosophical speculation.
2. The Rig Veda says nothing of reincarnation.
3. "Thus the whole of Vedic literature consists of four Vedas or Samhitas, several expository ritual texts attached to each of the Vedas called Brahmanas, and speculative treatises, or upanishads, concerned chiefly with a mystical interpretation of the Vedic ritual and its relation to man and the universe."
(Sources of Indian Tradition, Volume 1, p3)